June 6, 2009


Ever wondered why the NBA Finals are in a 2-3-2 and not in the usual 2-2-1-1-1 format? Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach had this idea and this was institutionalized in 1985. Before then, almost all Finals were in the 2-2-1-1-1 format (some exceptions had the 1-2-2-1-1 format).

So why did Red who probably doesn't care about the NBA's finances that much come up with such an idea?

The NBA Finals began to be nationally televised only on 1970. Before then, the games were delayed, syndicated or only certain games were aired (live or delayed); only local broadcasters aired the game live to their home markets.

After 1970, stipulations of the contract favored the broadcaster, where they dictate the time and date of the finals. In 1976, Games 1 and 2 were held 4 days apart. It's like the NHL nowadays with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals done on back-to-back days.

In the NBA setup, there's a high chance of probability that the finals teams are far apart geographically since the conferences are based on geography. this is not so much the case for the earlier rounds since the teams are closer, but not that much, especially on the Western Conference -- in 2006, the Mavericks traveled more miles on their Warriors series (about 1,400 miles) than their 2005 NBA Finals against the Heat (about 1,100 miles).

In the NBA Finals from 1970-84, there were 12 out of 14 "west of the Continental Divide"-"east of the Fall Line" series. The "closest" NBA Finals match-up was at 1974: the Bucks vs. Celtics (Bucks were at the West, then). So you can imagine the toll not only on the players but also to the coverage team and the equipment they had to tug around the continent. The situation were exacerbated by the dominance of teams from the West Coast (Lakers, Warriors, Sonics, Blazers) and teams from BosWash (Celtics, Knicks, Sixers, Bullets).

(Note: The Stanley Cup Finals are in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, but the chance of a coast-to-coast Finals are not that high. From 1970 to present there had been 15/39 or 38% of a coast-to-coast series, and by "West Coast," I included the Alberta teams even though you'd have to cross the Rockies to get to the Pacific. Two other series with the 2-3-2 format are the World Series and the Japan Series. The NFL doesn't come into play since all of their playoff games are one-off games.)

So Red had an idea: let's have a 2-3-2 Finals, the team with the home court advantage plays Games 1-2 and 5-7. That way there'd only be two road trips, as opposed to four in the 2-2-1-1-1 series.

But the thing is if it is still relevant nowadays, with Disney can probably tug along all Hannah Montana fangirls to cheerfully move their equipment with glee. But with the current economic mess, and with David Stern, don't expect a shift back to 2-2-1-1-1 for the NBA Finals.

And yes, this is not considered as a violation of my self-imposed commenting embargo on the 2009 NBA Finals.

1 comment:

  1. Hey listen up dude, u may delete this "comment" after reading it, cause I read nothin in your blog. But I clicked twice on diff ads, so just remember me for the 0.20$ in ur adsense account !


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